HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Capital Rebirth held its 2nd annual Stop the Violence and Drug Abuse Festival at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.
It was a time to spread a message of peace and celebrate with free food and music.
The main pull was the entertainment, but more importantly, there were community resources available to have the hard, but important conversation around violence in the city.
It’s not something that will be solved overnight, but gun violence in Harrisburg is still a major problem.
“Blood-stained streets, children starving for affection. Murderers, drug dealers, lots of thieves, what we all need is unity,” one poet said.
Saturday night, Capital Rebirth provided entertainment with a mission.
“We don’t want people to come to an event like this and walk away with no direction on any services that are provided in our community,” Mikell Simpson, founder and executive director of Capital Rebirth said.
Organizations like moms demand action were on hand to educate.
“We can talk about gun safety. We can hold our legislators accountable for things like background checks that are statistically proven to decrease gun violence,” Jessica Gazsi, community and events lead with Moms Demand Action Capital Region said.
The organization Hero in the Fight is breaking down barriers surrounding drug abuse.
“The word ‘hero in’ is a play off the word heroin and what that does is it sparks conversation,” Cassidy Cadeaux, who does advocacy and community outreach for Hero in the Fight, said. “I don’t know if you just saw I had a woman approach the table and do exactly that. ‘What is this word?’ So it gives us a catalyst to talk about recovery in our community.”
It was an opportunity to be entertained from the bandshell and informed up on the hill.
“The only way to raise awareness is to do events like this. And we break the stigma of addiction and abuse, maybe what keeps people stuck in their cycle by not talking about it,” Cadeaux said.
Simpson wants to make sure victims of gun violence aren’t forgotten.
“It’s one thing to talk about it, but when you can actually see the names on a shirt and you can see the countless shirts across the stage, you can actually see we do have a problem in our community and we need to put the guns down to figure out better solutions,” Simpson said.
The event featured artist and Harrisburg native Kierra Luv and Yung Swag.
There was also a fashion show to end the night.